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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

White Dog/Pregnant Spore - Split [Rainbow Bridge - 2010]

In many ways it's not easy to pin down the music, from both of these artists, as any one genre or label - there are a multitude of styles and manifestations, and it's all the better  for it. This limited edition cassette is a split between White Dog and Pregnant Spore, and they are very closely mirrored in terms of musical DNA, sometimes almost cloning each other to produce a very odd whole of other-worldly  atmospheres and dreams.

Both artists riff-off elements of classic ambient Krautrock, amongst other inspirations, employing  circuit-bending improv, experimental electronics and samples, as well as echoes  of industrial noise, space-hop, tape-glitch and loop-drones. There is a  synthesis of styles between White Dog and Pregnant Spore that constantly  veers between the various musical borderlines, to create something  unique, eclectic and weirdly unclassifiable, in this combined  missive from the surreal, cosmic outer limits. The music is immediately attractive, with an assortment of styles and influences, but there are harsher, more challenging elements mixed in, to offset any listener nonchalance - a lot of the sounds are funnelled through, or  accompanied by, an askew noise generator with discordant glitches,  static, hiss and rumble.

 Note: as all of the tracks segue into one another, on both sides, its hard to tell where one track starts and another ends, and the cassette cartridge isn't clearly marked, so unfortunately I wasn't able to definitively differentiate which side was by White Dog and the other by Pregnant Spore. In a way, it doesn't really matter, as they are very close in terms of musical generation, and just adds to the over-all enigmatic atmosphere of this release.

Side 1: (which I think is White Dog)

This first section incorporates Forbidden Planet/Louis & Bebe Barron type ambient electronics, blended in with the submerged echoes of a Victorian industrial machine churning away. Then we have Radiophonic Workshop/Space Invaders type bleeps and blurps, all mixed into the constant refrain of what sounds like a space-leviathan waking and yawning, in the background. Next, a syncopated beat takes over and takes us on a space-disco journey past the stars. A lot of these cosmic sounds are redolent of 60's/70's synthesiser/Moog electronics, though tempered by more post-modern, experimental elements and noise.

What seems like the second track on this side is made up from a dense strata of electronic samples, with faint vagaries of distant children's voices all overlaid with a cyber-machine wave-form, undulating in and out, which gradually subsumes everything else as it builds and throbs. This is straight out of a classic, 1970's science fiction film soundtrack. One is also reminded of similar ghostly nostalgia-reveries from the likes of Boards of Canada, though this is less melodious or 'pleasant' and seems less playful than that; it is more epic, austere and inhuman, creating a subtly unnerving tension and hence being closer, perhaps, to classic ambient Throbbing Gristle, or similar.

Side 2:

One strand starts off with what sounds like mutant crickets, chirping away, then phasing into a kind of soft drum & base beat, which reaches a crescendo of high-end hiss and then feeds into a dust-laden needle stuck in a groove. This transforms into robotic underwater voices, plus synthesiser-glitch, with deteriorated radio samples gradually coming to the fore, then the stuck groove again. Finally we come full circle, as the strange, squeaky insect banter creeps back, with all of these tendrils flowing in and out of each other, amongst a plethora of other bizarre sounds and rhythms, creating a circular template of shifting, deep sound, which constantly surprises and fascinates.

One side is the more 'ambient' of the two, with the other being more 'hyper-kinetic', but perhaps this is a simplification, as both artists veer between a variety of experimental modes, and have created, with this combined release, a beautifully mysterious and hypnotic spell from the inner-space landscape of weird, alien life-forms and galaxy-wide depths. This music is very visual and could easily accompany, to wonderful effect, an independent, avant-garde science fiction film. But, ultimately, an external translation through imagery would be unnecessary, as both of these artists, with their compelling retro-futuristic space-noise, utilise, amongst other talents, their cinematic sensibilities to conjure up an uncanny, cosmic landscape for our minds eye.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

James DC
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